Indigenous people refer to those peoples who either live or have lived within the past several centuries in non-state societies, though now nearly all have been absorbed and adapted to state societies. Much ethnographic and ethno-historical research shows that the symbolic, demographic, and social boundaries of indigenous groups have been quite flexible.
Global patterns of urbanization and industrialization have led to a reduction in the number of indigenous people. Despite this trend there has been a global resurgence in indigenous political mobilization and cultural renewal in recent several decades. Indigenous peoples are making land claims, petitioning for political rights, and demanding control of resources. The study of indigenous peoples is invaluable to understanding social change because they exhibit a wide range in variation.